June 3rd, 2017
Today the journey has begun… at four-thirty in the morning! I was meeting the rest of the team in Terminal B at the Philadelphia airport by five-thirty. Peter offered to drive me to the airport with only slight coercion on my part. Either way, my mom was more than happy to leave the early morning drive to Peter. My dad woke up to see us off and soon enough we were en route!
Once we arrived we parked the car and went inside, looking for the rest of my group. As we descended the escalator, I began scanning the long hallway for other exhausted people wearing a red shirt identical to my own. The excitement I felt at being reunited with my best friends is indescribable. Yes, it had only been about two weeks, but after living down the hall from and being inseparable for upwards of seven months, two weeks felt like forever. As excited as everyone was to see me, they were just has excited to see Peter (if not more!). When he went to make his rounds of goodbyes, Rachel turned to me and said, “Wait, why can’t he just come with?” I had asked him the same thing MANY times on the car ride here, but apparently, work is important or something. Ultimately, saying good-bye was very bittersweet. I’d miss home, but I was going to fulfill God’s amazing plan for me with great friends.
After what seemed like an eternity as traveling with a group typically does- we made it through security. The new goal was to find FOOD! After excessive wandering, Jason and I ended up at Chik-fil-a where we were soon joined by Drew and Adam, and then later Mike.
The flight was a mix of sleeping, doing my Bible Study, and reading Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle. The six-hour flight was nothing compared to the plane ride to London last January.
When we arrived in San Diego, Dylan and I ventured to find food and we ended up getting California Pizza. Once our stomachs were satisfied, we headed to find the rest of the group by the baggage claim. After grabbing our bags and finding our vans, we loaded up. At first, it did not seem as though everyone would fit, but our Doxa guide, Alex, showed up with his pickup truck and all worked out. Our first and last stop in San Diego was at In-and-Out Burger. It was good, but honestly, I did not think it was anything special. Joe, however, was in his prime, being from California and only moving here at the beginning of last year.
After we finished eating, we again loaded into our cramped van and headed to the border. Everyone was able to refrain from saying something stupid as we crossed and although we got pulled over to be checked, we crossed without any problems. The next stop was Costco where we got all the food chef Rachel and chef Mike would need for the week. The bill ended up being slightly more than expected, but we knew it was all in God’s will.
Eventually, we reached the orphanage that would be our home for the next week. After Alex oriented us to our accommodations, we carried all our food up SIX flights of steps to the kitchen and then carried all of our bags up FIVE flights. I definitely felt it in my legs, but with twenty-four people helping it really was not that bad and it went significantly faster than expected. Once Katie, Alex, Nikki, Rachel, and I claimed our room and grabbed all of our mattresses all I wanted to do was take a nap, but I knew it would be more beneficial to stay active.
Katie and I decided to wander around the facility and see if anyone was up to anything. We ended up wandering around the concrete soccer area that is part of the orphanage facility and finding Jason, Joe, Dylan, Drew, and Adam. We started a game and it was going well until we kicked the ball out of the courtyard. We were able to retrieve it, but the next time it happened it hit barbed wired, proving that we needed to be more careful. The ball was relatively okay. We ended up asking two of the orphans if they wanted to play with us. At first, someone suggested we go easy on them, but we soon realized they’re better than all of us combined. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We said good-bye to our new friends and went back inside.
Rachel, Mike, and Susie made a delicious dinner of salad, fruit, and lots and lots of pizza. After we all inhaled our dinners we decided to find someone to unlock the property gate for us, so we could venture down the street to the ice-cream place with the neon green outside. When we got there we all were ordering until a little boy came up to us and asked in broken English if he could order quickly. We, of course, said yes, but before we knew it he had ordered about five different cups of ice cream.
Since the process was taking longer than expected, Katie, Dylan, and Joe went to go give Suzie her ice cream at the orphanage while Drew, Jason, Adam, and I waited. While we were finishing up the most adorable little Mexican boy started talking to us. We could not understand much of what he was saying, but he got so much joy from us just telling him our names that it felt as though the language barrier was non-existent. Once we pulled ourselves away from the little boy, we stopped at the Coke store with the others, then headed back to the orphanage.
When we arrived back we had enough time to play a couple of rounds of cards. We played President– a supposed staple on White Clay missions trips. It’s a fun game, but it isn’t quite as fast-paced as I’d like it, nor does it have quite enough strategy for me. A little before seven we got called into the chapel for our nightly meeting. Tonight the meeting consisted of Suzie passing out our devotion books then having us go around in a circle and say our word of the day– for me, “friendship.”
I chose “friendship” because I was apprehensive about leaving for the trip. I was excited, but I also felt as though I could have used one more week at home with my friends and family. However, once I got to the airport I was so overwhelmed by love and friendship that I knew this is where I meant to be and these are the people I am meant to be with.
The plan for the remainder of the evening was to play more cards with everyone, but when I got to the upper patio I saw Jason standing at the railing. I went over with the intention of just saying “hey” but we ended up talking for at least an hour. By the time there was a pause in the conversation, we realized everyone had long since headed to bed. We said goodnight and I went back to my room. After talking to the girls for a while, my first day in Tijuana ended.